February 10, 2013
Permitted use provided by: MajorLeagueFishing.com
Jack Link’s Major League Fishing analyst Marty Stone says the Championship Round is all about one thing: keeping the train wreck from happening.
As in fish strong, gain the momentum and stay composed from start to finish without letting your emotions get the best of you.
That's Stone's prescription for one of the six championship finalists to win the Jack Link's Major League Fishing 2013 General Tire Summit Cup competition on 13,000-acre Chautauqua Lake in western New York.
"The key words here are composure and momentum, who can keep their composure when they lose a fish, who can keep their composure when the leader board is moving, who can gain the momentum and keep it," said Stone.
Stone does admit that the championship zone offers hope for all six competitors, even if they find themselves behind the proverbial eight-ball in the third period.
"When all of those things happen, when composure is gone, when momentum is gone, this particular hole gives you a chance," he said. "It gives you a chance to throw a first-and-forty. It gives you a chance to throw a long-ball out there and see if you can make these smallmouth bite."
Stone is surprised that smallmouths haven't played more of a role in this Major League Fishing event.
"They haven't factored in like I thought they would," said the North Carolina pro.
"They factored in (a little bit) in different ways like Alton Jones catching a four-pounder under a boat dock, (like) Greg Hackney catching one almost seven pounds under a boat dock.
"Smallmouths have played (a bit of a role) and some of these guys have advanced (because of them), but they haven't factored in offshore and we know they are in this lake (in a big way).
"The zone presents its challenges, but it also has rewards out there for someone willing to take the risks. This isn't about advancing, this is about winner takes all, losers go home."
So what's the bottom line in Stone's mind as to the role that the bronzeback bass will play in the final round?
"(The zone), it's going to be a handicap (for some), but it should allow someone to throw a 'Hail Mary,'" said Stone.
That's how Stone, the analyst, sees the final round, but how does Stone the angler see the Summit Cup conclusion?
"I've got the greatest job on earth," he said. "I've competed against these guys all of my life and you always wonder how certain anglers do certain things. I've left here with a greater respect for their overall talent level and then I've had a few that have even amazed me."
"Specific things that stand out are things like Denny Brauer on boat docks - you've heard about it all of your life, but until you live it, see it, and breathe it, you can never really appreciate it.
"Mike Iaconelli is a lot more accurate caster than I would have ever envisioned for someone that wild and goofy. You would think that his fishing would be the same way, but he fishes very clean.
"Greg Hackney is very efficient at what he does. Watching Dean Rojas throw a frog was breath-taking. And I can go on and on about these guys.
"It's fun to watch what separates these guys from average anglers," said Stone. "And I've said all along it’s the speed and efficiency of what they do and how they do their job.”
But make no mistake, Stone isn't saying these Major Leaguers are somehow super-human.
"(It's) also that they're no different than anybody else," said Stone. "I've seen them lose their composure and when they do, they're done."
How will the champion maintain his composure despite a zone with more limited boat docks, increasing boat traffic, and the pressure of the ever changing leader board being thrust into the angler's face every few minutes?
"Confidence within," said Stone.
"You've been there (before) and you've done it enough times. No one in this group is new to overcoming adversity.
"Which one of these anglers can dig down and say 'Ok, I've been here and done this before and I can do it again?' That's where experience pays off.
"That being said, there's only going to be one that does it and the rest will fall."
Tune into NBC to find out who rises to the top, overcomes the adversity, and becomes the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2013 General Tire Summit Cup Champion as the rest fall to the wayside.